Great hill climbs in Seattle?


I enjoy climbing hills, great views, and exploring the city, so I thought it would be fun to brainstorm a tour of Seattle that hits a number of Seattle's neighborhoods and involves climbing some of it's more challenging hills along the way.

I'm hoping to figure out something that involves hitting at least Ballard, Queen Anne, Magnolia, West Seattle, Downtown, Capitol hill, and the Mt. Baker area...

What hills in Seattle do you enjoy climbing? What hills are the best mix of steepness and length? I'm looking to find a good mix of really steep hills and longer hills (i.e. not just the 20 steepest grades in Seattle, most of which are only a block long).

Here are a few hills off the top of my head that could be fun to throw into the mix.

  • Something around 24th from Montlake up to the top of Capitol hill
  • Queene Anne Ave N
  • E Alder St from Lake WA BLVD up into Leschi

What are your favorite Seattle hills? Add 'em to the mix!

Submitted by Jeffrey Job on

If you want a long climb on a good road, start on the very west end of admiral way sw in west seatte and head up east towards California ave.  in fact, from the corner of cal and admiral, you can descend in three directions back down to the water and then head back up the hill again.  Three different levels of climbs.

If you're willing to come out to the Eastside, one of my favorite hill-climbing routes is a 30 loop around Lake Sammamish. It includes Zoo Road. Zoo Road is described elsewhere as "the toughest climb in the Seattle area". Ascending 1200 feet over 2.5 miles, it has an average grade of about 10%, with common gradients in 15% and some sections approaching 20%. This is not a climb to be approached lightly. Or, as one rider noted, “Zoo Hill is the puke-inducing lactate-producing gasp-fest that I avoid unless taunted.”

It looks something like this (I've given a descent down 43rd rather than 212th Way in Sammamish, because 212th is currently closed for repairs):





Submitted by Roy Wilkie on

OP did say "in Seattle", everyone said 'go east'.. but if you want to stay on the west side (ie; you live in West Seattle like me and don't want to add another 20 miles to your ride!) - if I were you;

  1. Ballard - from Golden Gardens, go up Golden Gardens Dr. NW., then up Loyal Way NW. You could also go out to NW Blue Ridge Dr., which is really Crown Hill, but Ballard is pretty much on a big moderate slope.
  2. Queen Anne - All over the place. Coming from the south, on the west side go around Olympic to 10th Ave., on the east go up Taylor, on the north try taking 8th Ave. & Raye St. around the Mt. Pleasant Cemetery.
  3. Magnolia - Inside Discovery Park there's a nice hill that goes out to the lighthouse - only way back is the way you came, so you get it twice. Outside the park to the southwest if you go down Perkins Ln. it's one of the few waterfront streets that comes back up someplace else (connects to Magnolia Blvd.) - it's fairly steep and long.
  4. West Seattle - on the west side of the peninsula there's a couple roads such as Jacobsen and Atlas Pl. which are nice climbs up to ~300 ft. If you want more hill you can keep going up to High Point, 520 ft. Up by Alki there's Fairmount Ave. SW which goes up a nice quiet gulch through a park, be careful of reckless drivers coming downhill though. Also you can go up California from Harbor Ave, and if you love climbing walls turn at the start of the hill up Ferry Ave. SW.
  5. Downtown - (why?) take James street from the water straight up First Hill? do it as a sprint it'll take you straight to the hospital which you may then need.
  6. Capitol Hill - honestly the only hill I like on Cap Hill is going up Interlaken from Montlake. 10th Ave. gets you up from the U Dist., but I wouldn't ride up it for sport.
  7. Mt. Baker - Lake WA blvd going through Colman Park is nice, the rest is all suburban streets with broken concrete. Read the map carefully, some streets actually turn into stairs.

Other than that you could also go south a bit and go around Marine View Dr., or north and check out View Ridge. Also near Mt. Baker on Beacon Hill is Cheasty Dr, one of my favorite light hills - tons of oxygen from the trees there, goes by a golf course. Coming down 14th from Beacon towards 12th Ave you get the best view of the city anywhere across the Rizal Bridge.

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